COVID-19: Nigeria Government Airlifts Muslim Pilgrims To Saudi Arabia 2 Years After Embargo

By Abdulkareem Haruna

Some of the 1300 Borno intending pilgrims at the launch of the inaugural flight at the Maiduguri International Airport on Thursday. Photo Abdulkareem/HumAngle

The government of Nigeria has today Jun.9 commenced the airlifting of intending Muslims Pilgrims for the 2022 editions of the hajj, the Islamic holy pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. 

Nigeria has not participated in the exercise during the 2020  and 2021 editions of the annual Islamic ritual due to the COVID-19-induced restriction imposed by the government of Saudi Arabia. 

The resumed airlift of the intended Pilgrims was being coordinated by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), a federal government agency that manages the hajj exercise. 

The inaugural flight was launched at the Maiduguri International Airport in Borno state.

Executive Chairman of NAHCON, Zikirullahi Kunle-Hassan, said a total of about 43,600  Nigerians who had indicated an intention to perform the holy rite would be airlifted to Saudi Arabia across the country. 

He said NAHCON chose Borno state for the inaugural flight in acknowledgement of the federal government’s efforts towards restoration of peace in the war-ravaged northeast. 

Borno state Governor, Babagana Zulum, represented Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, at the launching of the inaugural flight where 546 intending pilgrims from Borno state were airlifted as the first batch to Saudi Arabia. 

Governor Zulum congratulated the NAHCON for organising the exercise which would see over 40,000 Nigerians performing the hajj for the first time in three years. 

The governor implored the intending pilgrims to conduct themselves well and “be a good ambassador of Nigeria” during their stay in the holy land. 

Borno state has a total of 1,300 intending pilgrims for the 2022 edition of the Hajj. 

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